Only 31% of U.S. Catholics Believe the Bread and Wine Become the Blood and Body of Christ

Pew Research study on the Eucharist

The Catholic Church’s idea that the Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life has been widely believed to be central to the Catholic faith. However, a new survey by Pew Research Center has revealed that many self-described Catholics doubt this statement. Sixty-nine percent of Catholics have said their personal belief is the bread and wine used in Communion are symbols of the blood and body of Jesus Christ.

John Bergsma, a professor of Theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville, said it would be wrong to assume that everyone is aware of the basics. He went on to say that constantly reiterating the basics is something that should be done.

A mere 31 percent of Catholics in the United States believe that the bread and wine used in the Eucharist become the blood and body of Jesus Christ. Twenty-two percent of Catholics reject the idea of transubstantiation. Three percent of those surveyed revealed that they believe in the Real Presence despite being ignorant that the Church teaches this.

The Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron has said the study reveals poor formation for generations in the Church and the survey should be a wake-up call. It should tell people they need to step up their communication skills to spread the most fundamental doctrines of the Church.

Bergsman has said he was unsurprised by the survey’s results as there have been similar polls in the last two decades which have revealed similar results. Bergsman also said many of the self-identified Catholics who were surveyed probably do not go to Mass very often.

An issue that many face in the Church is trying to understand the teachings. The Catholic Church believes the wine and bread become the body as well as the blood of Jesus Christ. However, many have argued the characteristics that make the bread and wine still exist in a real way.

The words “actually” and “really” used in the survey without directing everyone’s attention to technical metaphysical distinctions might have also caused some confusion. Everyone’s views on the results are conflicted because of the way that the survey has gone about surveying Catholics of the United States.

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